Settling In

Zelda and Curly explore

Zelda and Curly explore their new pasture.

Stage two of the big move took place today. Zelda and Curly joined Freedom and Willow at their new home.

Zelda went over first (Curly has some stability issues standing in the trailer so I decided to take them separately).

There was much rejoicing when she saw her old friends, including a good old run in the pastures. Zelda sounds like a freight train coming up that hill! Freedom always amazes me by how lightly he moves over the ground, even at a gallop.

Old friends

The horses reconnected over the fence line. There was a lot of sniffing and squealing.

Curly traveled over in fine form and soon she too was reconnecting with her old friends.

Once they’d caught up with the gossip, they took a few more passes up and down the field. One good thing about this much space — they’ll all stay a lot fitter.

I love watching them run. It’s so nice for them to be in a place where they can really let loose.



First the good news


Freedom’s injured foot is so much better. It will still take a long time to fully resolve, but at least the gaping wound has healed.

You might remember that Freedom stepped on his foot a few months back. It happened in the blink of an eye and the wound took forever to heal. Back in January, I reported that we were having issues with proud flesh (Bad Luck Comes in Threes). The good news is that it’s finally better. Two months of deep snow helped keep it iced and clean. A nifty product called PF Wonder Salve, applied every couple of days, helped it heal. I can’t imagine what a nightmare it would have been had the horses been ankle deep in mud.

There will be some long term implications: the hoof capsule is distorted and he will need some extra support as it all grows out, but I’m thrilled with the progress.

PF Wonder Salve

The product helped the wound heal and restricted the growth of proud flesh.

Of course, the bad news is also a result of the snow. While Freedom’s front hooves look good, his hinds are not-so-great. Normally, in the winter I pull his shoes and he emerges in the spring with beautiful feet. The nail holes grow out and the hoof is generally hard and healthy.

Not this year. The hard ground we had earlier left him with very little hoof wall to nail to and bruises on his soles. The deep snow and the cold have meant that he hasn’t moved around much, even though he’s been turned out. Certainly the snow has helped cushion his feet but little movement = less growth. I’ve started him on a hoof supplement and I’m hoping that now that it’s starting to warm up, he’ll start to move around more and get the blood flowing through those hooves.

I haven’t been able to ride since January, so I don’t know yet how tender his feet are under saddle. I’m thinking that he may need hoof boots in the spring to keep him comfortable — those, or glue on shoes. I’ve heard really good things about glue ons in every aspect except for price!

Have any of you tried them? It will be awhile before his hind feet can hold shoes and with his tender TB soles, he will need some protection.

Fun in the snow . . . or not

Here you can see the relative size difference between Zelda and my dog, Woolly Mammoth (aka Woolly).

Here you can see the relative size difference between Zelda and my dog, Woolly Mammoth (aka Woolly).

How much fun you are having in this latest snow depends considerably on your size.

Zelda loves it. She’s fully of energy and although she doesn’t race around for long, she gives some good bucks and rears, trying to convince Curly to join in.

Curly was having none of it this morning, so Zelda tore around the paddock on her own for about 3 minutes (until she tired herself out).

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When Woolly saw Zelda hightailing it around the field, he did the smart thing (I thought) and got the hell out of Dodge.

Unfortunately for him, he decided to stray off the path into fresh snow. The result? He got stuck until I could rescue him and make a new path. Lucky for him I noticed he was missing! Sadly for him, I think he’ll need to stay home until some of the snow melts.

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More snow

The horses were out in the snow, not much bothered by the bitter cold. It’s actually a good sign that their blankets are covered in snow; it means they are well insulated.

Just when we’d almost dug out from the last storm, we’ve been hit by another.  This one came with less fanfare, very few ominous warnings in the media, and no driving ban but it dumped almost as much snow on us and left the roads nearly impassible.

Thankfully, I didn’t need to walk to the barn today because I think that the high temperature today was 11 degrees!

The horses were fine, although they didn’t get their breakfast icicleuntil it was quite late. They were out in the snow and looked more like icicles than horses.

Freedom in particular was dripping with icicles.

Let’s look at the bright side. With all the snow, the laceration on his foot is staying clean and it’s giving his hooves (which were tender and cracking from the hard ground) a chance to recover.

snowshoesBut I’m ready for the daily high to be more than 15! But I’m going to keep my snow shoes handy for the foreseeable future.

Snowpocalypse 2015


I really spooked the horses when I showed up wearing snowshoes. There was lots of snorting and wild eyed stares!

While we didn’t get quite as much snow as predicted — forecasters were making noise about 2-3 feet. We sure got plenty! We woke up to about 18″ of snow this morning and got another 2-3″ throughout the day. I live about a mile from the barn by road and about half a mile if you go cross country on the trail system.

Hindering my progress to the barn this morning was the driving ban. No cars are allowed on the roads unless you have a sanctioned purpose. I waited for the highly anticipated noon press conference by the Governor, but no luck. Then I hoped that if I called the police station they would sanction the short drive, especially give we have a 4WD truck. But no, there was no leeway there. I explained I had to feed horses, that they were waiting for me. But there was no sympathy. I asked if they would send an emergency vehicle to rescue me if I walked over and became incapacitated. They said they would, so I headed out.

Normally the barn is about a fifteen minute walk from my house. It took me about 45 minutes to slog my way over. Luckily road up to the trailhead was plowed, so I had only the “short” stretch through the woods to get there. I’m not sure my snowshoes helped much: the snow was so fluffy and light that I sank all the way through. And that necessitated many stops along the way to catch my breath, unzip my jacket because I was overheating. Zip up my jacket because I was cold, etc. Good news? I had a helluva workout!

Freedom covered with ice and snow

Freedom was covered with ice and snow. It didn’t bother him at all!

When I got to the barn the horses were fine. Snow? Cold? Doesn’t bother them. Freedom was literally dripping with ice and snow, and was oblivious to it.

Of course, they were terrified of me because I was wearing snowshoes — apparently they turn me into a fire breathing dragon — but the promise of food got them over it. Since it was likely to be there only food-delivery visit today, I left them with plenty of hay and a few candy canes.

Path thru the woods

The path through the woods toward home. It’s usually a short walk, but it seemed very long today

The walk back was better. I’d packed the snow down pretty effectively and didn’t have to stop so much on the way back. The best part was when I got to the road. My husband had brought the snowblower to the end of the street and created a path through the huge snowbank left by the plow. I was so tired by then, and so not looking forward to climbing through/over it again. The last five minutes of the walk were a breeze!

Thank goodness the travel ban will be lifted at midnight tonight. Another day without being able to drive would really try my patience.

Bad luck comes in threes?

Freedom's laceration should have healed more . . . it's in a bad place. Hard to keep clean, hard to keep him still.

Freedom’s laceration should have healed more . . . it’s in a bad place. Hard to keep clean, hard to keep him still.

It was one of those weeks where I felt like I spoke to my vet more than my friends! I like my vet, but mostly I want to see her twice a year for shots. I’ve now seen her three times in the past month, so I’m hoping that my spell of bad luck is over.

Freedom’s heel bulb laceration isn’t healing well. It’s in a prime location to develop proud flesh and to promote healing, she needed to cut away the excessive granulation tissue. It was not fun. Even with his foot blocked, the only way to keep him still was with a lip chain. When it was done, it looked like a small animal had died in the aisle — there was a lot of blood.

To add insult to injury, he’s also developed scratches on that foot.

I guess the good news is that he’s sound on the foot and not particularly bothered by it. Still, it’s going to take a long time to heal. I am armed with saline wash, a treatment for the granulation tissue and enough sterile pads and bandages to treat an army.

That was Thursday. Fast forward to yesterday morning.

When I went to feed in the morning, he was clearly not himself. He refused to eat. He was lethargic. he was yawning excessively and rocking his lower jaw. He was colicky.

Thank goodness we keep Banamine on hand at the barn. I dosed him in the morning and at my vet’s advice, also syringed a cup of Milk of Magnesia down his throat. Two hours later he was looking brighter and moving around. He’d passed manure and was looking hungry — and mad that he was not allowed food until the evening. Banamine is really a wonderful drug.

By dinner time, he was back to his normal self and guarding his food from Willow. He got another dose of Banamine as a preventative, but if you hadn’t seen him in the morning, you wouldn’t know he’d been feeling so sick.

At 10 p.m. he was still chowing down on his hay (provided in a small hole net to make it last longer).

Of course this happened during our first real snowstorm of the year when the roads were nasty and most everything was closed. That’s a rule, isn’t it?


Zelda wants a fountain

Truck water tank

My husband brought over 140 gallons of water for the front tank.

Although we’ve had plenty of cold weather this winter (too much), we’ve had practically no precipitation. That’s a problem for our water situation at the Red Barn, where we depend on rain water to fill our tanks.

This week the front tank was down to just a few inches of water. Luckily, last winter my husband bought a pick up truck water tank. He brought some water over yesterday morning to tide us over until the big storm tomorrow.

Zelda checking out water

Zelda has to check everything out.

Zelda’s turnout is right next to the tank. She was fascinated and intrigued. She decided that this was a gift just for her.

Now she wants him to come back so she can have her own personal water fountain.

water fountain

She’s decided that she wants her own water fountain.

Warming from the inside

soaked cubes

Soaked cubes are part of my horses’ winter diet. I like feeding the extra forage and the more water.

Blankets are one way to keep your horse warm during the winter, but you can also help your horse generate his own heat by feeding him more forage.

We feed a lot of hay. Much more than my horses ever got at commercial boarding facilities. Long stem forage is good for a horse’s digestion and the digestive process also generates heat. So, the colder it becomes, the more forage you should offer your horse.

According to the North Dakota State University Agricultural Communication,

Cold temperatures also change the daily feeding requirement. The lower critical temperature for horses with a heavy winter coat during dry, calm weather is 30 F. For each 10-degree change below 30 degrees, horses require an additional intake of approximately 2 pounds of feed per day (assuming the feed has an energy density of 1 megacalorie per pound, which is typical for most hay).

A 10- to 15-mph wind will require horses to consume an additional 4 to 8 pounds of hay to meet their increased energy requirements. When a horse without shelter becomes wet and encounters wind, it must consume an additional 10 to 14 pounds of hay.

That’s a lot of hay! One of the ways that I feed hay in the winter is by using soaked hay cubes. I feed 50/50 Timothy Alfalfa cubes, adding 2-3 pounds soaked. Freedom gets his twice a day; Zelda just at dinner. This adds more forage to the diet (without as much volume), cuts down on waste,and also helps keep them hydrated.

Note: while it’s not absolutely essential to soak hay cubes, I always do to prevent the chance of choke.